Dog Training... It's Not Rocket Science, But it IS science!
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
That's why it can be hard for dog owners to get to grips with all the words, concepts, hand signals, precise timings and all that other stuff that modern dog trainers keep banging on about.
Even worse all this stuff needs to be practised on a daily basis in a different range of places to make sure that training is really effective and works. The trouble is the laws of learning are happening all day, every day, not just when you come to dog class or decide to train your puppy for five minutes. Your dog is learning all the time, both good and bad things.
For example the very first time your new puppy runs across the field to say hello to another dog, in that one moment they will have learned two things, firstly how much fun it is and secondly there is little you can do to get them back until they are ready to return.
You can shout, call and give them a treat when they eventually get back to you or get cross and frustrated which will probably make your puppy less likely to want to return to you the next time.
Trainers talk of positive reinforcement, reward based 'this' and classical conditioning 'that' but what has all this got to do with the furry friend lying next to you? Well quite a lot actually! Dogs don't care about science or being trained, their motto in life is 'What's in it for me'. This pretty much sums up dog training in a nutshell.
Remember, you will always get the behaviour you have rewarded. So what are you really rewarding?
The real reward on offer here is not the treat in your pocket but the fantastic time your puppy had playing with the other dog on that very first occasion many weeks back. From your dog's point of view they are being rewarded on a daily basis for running over to say hello to other dogs or people. They return when they have had the real reward to get a biscuit from your pocket.
Modern reward based dog training focuses on prevention rather than curing the problem some weeks down the line. By teaching your new puppy from the start to check-in and look at you for a treat when they spot another potential playmate. To wait until given permission for the real reward, that they get to go say hello to lots of people and dogs but at the same time learning to be well mannered, as everyone likes a well mannered dog.